ATP Indian Wells Day 1 Odds, Analysis & Predictions: Baez to Push Kyrgios in First Round Battle (March 10)
Darrian Traynor/Getty. Pictured: Nick Kyrgios jokingly kicks a tennis ball in a match at the Australian Open.
The first Masters tournament of the year has arrived, and it’s one of the best that the tour has to offer.
Indian Wells is returning back to its normally programmed time slot after a fall stint last year due to Covid-related scheduling changes. Because of that, massive crowds and an exciting atmosphere will be present, as we’ve already seen in the qualifying draw.
Here are the matches that I’ll be betting on the first day in Indian Wells, including an underdog whom I believe to be live.
Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing tennis matches.
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (-300) vs. Borna Coric (+230)
3:20 p.m. ET
While I don’t typically like to get into matches where a player is coming off of a long layover, I’ll make an exception for this first round battle.
Borna Coric last played in the early part of 2021, before he was sidelined for over a year by a shoulder injury. While these courts do suit the Croat’s game, this isn’t a match where I feel he’ll be able to find his rhythm. Coric will be facing an opponent who is more than happy to grind from the baseline in Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, and it’s ambitious to think Coric will be anywhere near his best.
The Spaniard is a solid hard court player, and the remarkably slow courts suit his game as much as they do Coric’s. With a 1700-plus Elo Rating on hard courts and time to recover from his travel in the Middle East, I anticipate that Davidovich Fokina will be sharp from the jump.
Returning from a long layover just to deal with long rallies, conditions that don’t make it easy to earn free points and an opponent with an incredible work rate is a brutal situation. It’s hard to imagine Coric consistently hanging in the 40-ball rallies that we’re used to seeing on these courts.
Look for Davidovich Fokina to exploit the rust that Coric is bound to have, ultimately paving the way for a clear cut victory. That isn’t the worst outcome for Coric, who will be happy to return to the Tour and have a match under his belt.
Pick: Davidovich Fokina to Win 2-0 (-110 via PointsBet)
Marcos Giron (-180) vs. Lorenzo Musetti (+150)
3:20 p.m. ET
Time and time again one of the most underrated players on the market is Marcos Giron, who is being given a generous price against the up-and-coming Lorenzo Musetti.
The Italian excelled on the slow hard courts in Rotterdam, but Giron has the patience to wear down Musetti, who can struggle with error issues when dealing with players who have quality rally tolerance, as Giron does.
Giron recorded a big win last fall in Indian Wells, getting by Botic van de Zandschulp from a set down before falling to Filip Krajinovic in the second round. We know he loves the conditions as evidenced by that performance and his success in Acapulco, where he beat John Millman and Pablo Carreno Busta.
The American’s hard court Elo Rating is over 100 points better than his counterpart, and this will be another big chance for him to defend his Masters ranking with points in comfortable circumstances.
Giron was dominant behind his first serve in Mexico, winning over 73% of his first serve points in each match. That’ll be vital on these slow courts, and it’s conducive to a substantial edge for Giron.
Pick: Marcos Giron -2.5 Games (-115 via FanDuel)
Nick Kyrgios (-180) vs. Sebastian Baez (+146)
9 p.m. ET
The last time Kyrgios played an ATP event off of Australian soil was in August of 2021, when he fell to Reilly Opelka at the Canadian Open. He’s played in the US Open and Australian Open in that span, but he’s coming into this match having not played since January.
Baez is coming into this match with a ton of tennis under his belt. Having reached the final of the Chile Open, he’ll be confident that he can neutralize the power of the Aussie thanks to his form and the slow conditions in Indian Wells.
The Argentine has shown that he’s more than capable of competing on hard courts, and this isn’t an impossible matchup for him considering the conditions. If Kyrgios can’t get his serve by Baez, the balance will shift to the next-gen player, and he has the consistency off both wings to test Kyrgios’ tolerance on the backhand wing.
While Kyrgios’ serve is likely to fly through the air in Indian Wells, don’t expect him to post the gaudy service numbers he displayed in Melbourne. Kyrgios recorded 38 aces in just five sets, but without that safety net, he’s far more vulnerable.
Don’t be shocked if Baez records the upset, but getting 2.5 games is enough for me to back him against the spread.
Pick: Baez +2.5 games (-115 via DraftKings)